The Joup Friday Album: David Bowie – Outside

OutsidebowieJoe:

If you do a search for David Bowie on Joup you will find a total of 20 articles of or relating to him. I wanted to begin this article with that little tidbit in order to illustrate a little of what the man means to us here at Joup. This is also the only thing nearing an explanation you will get for the fact that all or most of our regular contributors have spent the days and, well, will probably  spend the weeks after his death writing about him. Due to travel arrangements I missed my original turn for the Joup Friday Album last week but have come out in a better position to do what I had intended, as I spent the week visiting my co-publisher Shawn Baker in Los Angeles and had the rare opportunity to do this piece together, in person no less.

The Joup Friday Album: Priests- Bodies and Control and Money and Power

 

Priests“I went to college, I got a job, but i still can’t figure out how to join the mob!”

The quote above is from the album closer of Priests debut record Bodies and Control Money and Power “And Breeding”. Everything about the sentence above is brash, funny and exciting all of which are perfect words to describe this record as a whole. Through Bodies and Control’s eight tracks, Priests take us through a sarcastic and pissed off sonic assault; the songs are fast, the playing a tad rudimentary, the lyrical content touching the basses of being confused with life, wanting to take on authority of any kind, hating the ideas of settling down and having children. Y’know the main qualities required for a really great punk rock record, and Priests take these qualities and uses them in a way that while being tried and true for it’s genre, feels like a breath of fresh air and revleatory too.

The Joup Friday Album: The Libertines – Up the Bracket

2002Libertines600Rising above the Strokes and their imitators during the garage rock revival of the early aughts, the Libertines embraced the fuzz and scuzz of the garage, but overlaid it with a pretty tunefulness better suited to a campfire singalong than a garage jam session. “Up the bracket” is a British slang term that means a punch in the throat and it’s a fitting title, as this album strikes fast and hard, forcefully grabbing your attention.
The Libertines’ co-front men Pete Doherty and Carl Barat don’t fall into a typical lead and rhythm guitar confederation, instead their melodies intertwine and climb over and under each other, reminiscent of Richard Lloyd and Tom Verlaine’s trade-offs in Television’s “See No Evil.” Likewise, the dueling vocals of Doherty and Barat wrestle and tumble over each other like a pair of puppies fighting over a toy, equal parts playful and combative. Barat is the croon and Doherty is the yelp. This interplay is in full effect on the opening track “Vertigo” in which the two harmonize like the Everly Brothers in the midst of a bender. Barat and Doherty get all the attention, but “Vertigo” demonstrates that there’s a talented rhythm section backing them up.
Doherty’s slurring delivery on “Horrorshow” and “The Boy Looked at Johnny” bring to mind another famously wasted front man, the Pogues’ Shane MacGowan. Many would happily write Doherty off as just another off-his-head wastrel, but the lyrics of a song like “A Time for Heroes” place him firmly in the junkie poet mold, and many a fan spent years expecting to shake their heads sadly at another talent tragically squandered in an OD.
Meanwhile, Barat’s talents are best demonstrated in the striptease swagger of “Boys in the Band,” a tribute to groupies or bar fights, or maybe bar fights with groupies? Barat also takes the lead on “I Get Along,” which along with “What a Waster” ends Up the Bracket with a double barreled bang that renews one’s faith in British punk and dares you not to pogo along.
Up the Bracket is a perfect example of one of those songwriting duos, like Strummer and Jones or Morrissey and Marr, whose combined talents are far greater than the sum of their parts. Nothing either Barat or Doherty has done since has matched up. And now that they’ve reunited, the pieces no longer fit back together quite right. Perhaps the angry young men have mellowed with age and lack the previous angst that fueled them. Maybe Up the Bracket was just lightning in a bottle – the rare kismet of the right people coming together at the right time to make a brilliant album.

The Joup Friday Album: Placebo – Meds

Meds“No, the blues are because you’re getting fat or maybe it’s been raining too long. You’re sad that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. You’re afraid, and you sweat like hell, but you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Except something bad is going to happen, only you don’t know what it is. You’ve had that feeling?”

Welcome to the start of Chicago winter.

The Joup Friday Album: The Mars Volta – De-loused in the Comatorium

delousedThere are some albums you get right away. Others take time. An anecdote I use that a lot of people tend to relate to is when I fell in love with Pinebender’s Working Nine to Wolf . I had the disc on repeat downstairs in the living room of our rented town home while I was upstairs writing. The music on the album was unobtrusive, working its way through the floor boards in vague and lilting passages that, at first, left no impression. Shortly however, I realized I was humming along with what I had just heard, and before long I knew the disc intricately even when away from it. I call this the “Through the walls” method of absorbing music and it often leads to some of the strongest connections I have with albums. Several key records in my life have endeared themselves to me in this or similarly “passive” ways. The Mars Volta’s debut full-length album De-loused in the Comatorium is one of them.

The Joup Friday Album: The Walker Brothers – Nite Flights

walkerbrosThere was this moment that played out years ago, sometime in the early 2000’s, when I was in a record store, sifting through CD’s and LP’s, letting my mind wander and breathe, when over the store’s PA system came a revelation. To be fair, this moment has happened several times over my life, some record store somewhere playing some song that gets stuck in my ears, head, and soul, and demands that I procure a copy of it right then and there. I’m that sucker from that scene in High Fidelity where the clerks make a bet as to how fast they can move a copy of The Beta Band’s The Three EP’s album by playing “Dry the Rain” in the store. I’m that guy who perks up and starts nodding his head, glancing around the room for evidence as to what is being listened to. You have me trapped. I am in your control. You play something wonderful, and I’m probably going to buy it from you…right then and there. Over the years I’ve been turned on to everything from Stephin Merritt’s Future Bible Heroes project to Richard Youngs and Simon Wickham-Smith’s weirdo experimental album Pulse of The Rooster, indie rock from The Dears to old psych classics like Skip Spence’s Oar. I am seriously in sonic debt to you people, but the high water mark will always be the pure and beautiful sounds of Scott Walker (Engel) and The Walker Brothers.

The Joup Friday Album: Mr. Bungle – California

mrbungleI got to see Faith No More a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been in full on Mike Patton mode ever since. Few artists have inspired the kind of rabid fanaticism in me that Patton has, and in that stretch of years in between when Faith No More disbanded and then reunited, I sought out everything the man created, even the most perfunctory of musical endeavors or guest spots. And while he most certainly has had a misstep here or there, the vast bulk of projects, collaborations, and appearances he has contributed to are resoundingly good, or at the very least interesting. It’s his willingness to experiment and to draw influence from practically every style or genre conceivable that gives his work its oomph. And it all started before he was even in Faith No More with a different group of West Coast weirdos called Mr. Bungle.

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